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Lions Roar : September 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN SepteMBer 2009 69 but made all the worse by my heavy, multilayered big-deal/mr. important robes—i awkwardly exited the storage shed into a flood of harsh winter light. i contracted and released the appropriate muscles. But there seemed to be no denying it. i’d shit myself. a man’s life is made up of choices like this: right, the zendo. Left, the bathroom. i never made it to the bathroom. i can handle this, i told myself, slipping my boots off on the ze- ndo porch. The shoji—the zendo’s kindly mother figure—opened the door for me and i took my seat with alacrity next to the co- jikijitsu, effectively corking my bottom on the cushion beneath me. That’s cool, i thought. i can sit this out, then dash to the can during the next break. Before my co-jiki peer rang the bell to start the sit, however, she turned and gave me a small bow. no. No! it was my turn to carry the keisaku. During sits before koan meetings with the master, a member of the jiki staff patrols the room with the keisaku, a long, thick ruler-like stick tapering from handle to end. when he comes to a student or monk who looks too loose—or too tense—he taps him or her on the shoul- der. They bow together, and then the recipient bends to one side and whack! whack! whack! other side: whack! whack! whack! a zendo is not a place to space out. To take your seat and catch up on personal fantasies or zone out for a week. Get out of your heads and into your haras! the “encouragement stick” cries with every crack. Activate your viscera with your breath. Gut-sit! i got up. There was diarrhea running down my leg. it was ter- rible. i could smell it. i reeked of fresh human shit. i had the dubi- ous good luck to be wearing hot chili thermals and all the excre- ment running down my legs puddled at the elastic at my ankles.